I’ve put off posting this on my blog because I don’t want any family members to find out about my decision to serve a mission through a Blog or Facebook. I am still keeping the information off facebook, but I woke up this morning with a prompting that this should be shared on here.
A few months back I was struggling to decide whether to serve or not. I told my father of my interest in serving and that did not go well. I basically got an ultimatum. If I decided to go, he would want nothing to do with me. I struggled for weeks with the decision and struggled to get answers even as I visited the temple. I ultimately decided to step into the unknown and to put my papers in to serve. The week when I made my decision was one of the most difficult of my life. I was wrecked with guilt and kept feeling that I should change my mind. Yet, I kept onward driven perhaps more by a sense of uncertainty than certainty.
I got my mission call my second week here in Utah. As I opened it, I was filled with nerves and apprehension. Yet, as I looked at my call that tension melted away. “You are hereby called to serve in the Novosibirsk Russia Mission.” My whole body tingled as I read aloud my call to some gathered friends. I had studied Russian for three semesters in school so the call did not entirely surprise me. However, I was struck by how appropriate the specific call within Russia was. I had considered studying abroad in Russia before ultimately settling on London because the Russian program was cancelled. Had I decided to study abroad I would have spent the preponderance of the program time in Irkutsk near Lake Baikal. One of the reasons I hesitated to go there is that I was still an investigator in the church and worried that without a strong church foundation I would not be able endure and become a strong member. I was impressed to find that this city is part of my mission territory! I will be blessed to help the church grow in that very area! I also realized when I told my father of the call that he was conceived near Novosibirsk and born nearby in what is now modern day Kazakhstan as his parents escaped Russia after the second world war. These factors really helped me to feel the inspired nature of the call.
My uncertainty became a sense of certainty. Only well after I made my decision did I come to realize that it was the right one. Things with my father have not been as bad as I anticipated. We still speak. He came to my university commencement in May. I plan on writing and e-mailing him weekly from my mission. I think in the long run my decision may bring us closer.
My experience has taught me a valuable lesson about the way the Lord wants us to make decisions. Often he will not make them for us and neither choice will be a bad one. Instead, both of my options were good in many ways. I could have continued to be a dedicated member of the church throughout law school and done good that way. Yet, ultimately one decision was the best one.
While I was struggling to decide, I listened to a talk in Stake Conference in Boston which put a new spin on a familiar story that I have written about before. The Boston Temple President (President Wood) spoke about Peter’s attempt to walk on water. As Peter looked straight ahead at the savior, he was able to walk with confidence. It was only when he looked around him at all the billowing storm clouds and the turbulent water that he began to fear and to fall. I have found that this was quite true in my decision making. When I looked at the core question of whether I wanted to serve, the answer was a crystal clear YES! It was only when I began to look at other factors such as finance and my father’s reaction to my decision that I began to be filled with doubt and fear. Harold B. Lee is quoted as saying “”Walk to the edge of the light, and perhaps a few steps into the darkness, and you will find that the light will appear and move ahead of you.” (as quoted by Boyd K. Packer, in Lucile C. Tate, Boyd K. Packer: A Watchman on the Tower , 138) If anyone reading this post is struggling and burdened with similar difficult decisions, know that the lord will sanctify your decision so long as it is done with him in mind. Act on what you know is right and true.
One particular scripture sustained me through the most difficult times. Romans 8: 14-16
14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Because of the savior we need not fear. We have a spirit of hope and promise rather than one of bondage. Struggling with an unhappy father that spoke of disowning me, I was comforted to realize that I have a heavenly father that I can call Abba (What I’ve always called my earthly father). I know that my efforts will be sanctified by that same loving father figure.